Introducing Northeast England
Perched atop of England, along the border with Scotland, the northeast has always been frontier country – its people passionate, independent and generally isolated from the rest of the island below. You only need take a glance at the vast, almost epic countryside to get a sense of its brooding, menacing beauty – from the wind-lashed stretch of coast through the heather-carpeted Cheviot Hills and on into the wilderness of Northumberland National Park before arriving at the feet of the dark slopes of the North Pennines. Beyond them is Scotland, the other actor in an 800-year-old historical drama of war, bloodshed and conquest: no wonder the folks up here have a reputation for being hardy.
It’s been tough round these parts since prehistory, and it’s taken an almost superhuman effort to leave a mark on this indomitable landscape. The Romans were successful; their legacy is the magnificent Hadrian’s Wall, which served as their empire’s northern frontier for nearly 300 years. The Normans weren’t half bad either: they dotted the landscape with more castles and, in Durham, built one of the world’s most beautiful cathedrals. Against their splendid backdrops, these marvellous constructions serve only to reinforce an impression of a landscape that hasn’t changed much since the region was part of the ancient kingdom of Northumbria.
If you look closely, however, you will see that the landscape is run through with dark, menacing scars: dotted throughout are the rusting hulks of an industry that drove this region for nearly 700 years. Mining is all but defunct now, yet the cities it built are still very much alive, none more so than Newcastle, the biggest in the region and one of the most dynamic urban centres in England.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
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